The first thing you’ll notice about Melbits World, a new family game for the phone-based PlayLink series, is that it’s pretty. Very pretty. The sickly sweet, blocky Melbits themselves are cute, but the worlds that surround them are also eye-catching in a minimalist way. It’s certainly hard to think of a PlayLink game as visually appealing as this one.
And along with its basic but charming visual style is some basic but charming gameplay. The end goal of every level is to get your Melbits from one pipe to another, by way of a few set routes. Every player is then given a button or slider on their phone screen connected to a moving piece on screen. It’s everybody’s job to communicate with each other and control their pieces so enough Melbits survive the level.
In terms of Melbits World’s mechanics, that’s really about it. Obviously it’s designed with younger players in mind, but it’s still appealing to a certain point with adults, too. Though things start off slowly and earlier levels can get quite boring as you wait for your Melbits to do something, by the advanced stages levels are a lot more engaging, with each player having multiple switches to control – and therefore a lot more things can go wrong.
It’s easy to assume that Melbits World is a game solely for children thanks to its cutesy levels and character customisation, but there’s enough meat in this game for all ages to play. Even as levels get more complex, there are rarely moments of frustration, even though things can get boring or repetitive occasionally.
There’s really not much to say about Melbits World because of its simplicity, but that simplicity is what makes it so appealing in the first place. A lot of PlayLink games have failed because they’ve tried to do too much at once, when really smartphone-based games are at their best when they’re simple. It may not be the most revolutionary or thought-provoking puzzle game, but Melbot Studios’ effort certainly offers a glimmer of hope for an improved PlayLink lineup.
Melbits World is a nice attempt at creating a fun, simple puzzle game suited to PlayLink's smartphone functionality. Its visual style is very easy on the eye, while the basic, communication-based gameplay means it's bound to be a good family game. The PlayLink initiative may not have been as popular as Sony may have hoped, but Melbot Studios' title shows that there's plenty left to explore when it comes to smartphone controlled gaming.